Wole Oni is an accomplished record producer. He’s a synthesizer, a programmer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger and sound engineer. He is the founder and current CEO of Instinct Productions and Wole Oni Music Productions (WOMP).
Though, he was born in Ondo State, he has worked in many countries like Rwanda, South Africa, United Kingdom and the US for several years, writing and producing music for artistes’ album projects, as well as scoring various radios, television and film projects.
Wole Oni studied Computer Sciences, but his unquenchable passion for music made him choose music as a profession. He started playing percussion instruments from the age of 7 in the early 80’s in his father’s church, and with the music team of his primary school, before he later trained as a classical pianist and replaced his father as the church organist at St. Andrew Anglican Church, Akure where he fully developed his music skills and talent. Thereafter, he began to produce artistes in Decah and Ivory music in the late 80’s.
His first hit was producing “E Wa Fun Mi Ni Visa” for Bembe Aladisa, but his first big break was producing the smash hit song “Kosobabire” which gained massive air play all over the world and earned a KORA award for Gospel songstress Folake Umosen.
Wole has not looked back since; churning out hit after hit. The next big hit for him was “Igwe” for gospel music quadruplets, Midnight Crew. So far, Wole Oni has produced over 1,500 artistes including Onyeka Onwenu, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Dele Bamigboye, Kefee (“Thank You My God”), Tosin Martins (“Olo mi”) Segun Obe (“Celebrate”), The Jewels (Star Quest 2007 winner), Ara, Pastor Aity Inyang, Lara George (“Ijoba Orun” and the self titled album), Tim Godffery and Xtreme Crew, Silver Saddih, Chrysolite (South Africa) and many others.
He recently produced three massive songs for peace in Nigeria. The first was for “Neighbor 2 Neighbor Network”, then The “Kefee Foundation” and the “centenary theme song”. All songs featured a Nigerian All-Star ensemble.
He is the brain behind a lot of great on-air commercials in Nigeria such as MTN’s (moving you ahead), the new Stanbic IBTC, CFC (Communicating for Change), Access bank (voice over), Milo, Promasidor, GTB, Power Horse and Others. Wole Oni is a prominent member of the Spectrum Band, and has performed with several jazz and rock bands in the United States of America, United Kingdom, , United Emirates of Arab and South Africa. He also performed at the Common Wealth Heads of Government Summit with Queen Elizabeth in attendance. He used to be the resident pianist at Sheraton Hotel and Eko Hotels and Towers. He is also a multi-international award winning producer; he has in his credit Africa Gospel Music Award (AMGA 2012 &2013), Best producer in Africa for three consecutive years, Best Producer Crystal Award (2011), Kora Award, Best producer COPGA 2013 and several nomination.
Recently, this world class pianist celebrated 45years birthday, and City People Assistant Editor, SUNDAY ADIGUN, spoke to him about his career and his marriage.
How was your growing up years?
I grew up in a Christian home. We had lots of music in the house. We always listened to both gospel music and indigenous music, and some of the foreign music, as well. That actually formed my foundation. When I was young, I played percussion, I played drums, base quitar and the organs. We are Anglican Church worshippers and that’s more reasons I love hymns so much.
They are my fundamental when it comes to rudiment of music. From there, I started professionally, started going to the studio to do production. I joined a group where they sing contemporary songs, which was very good for development at that time.
From there, I came to Lagos and the rest becomes history.
Tell us about your parents?
My parents are no nonsense kind of parents. They were both educationists. My mother was a headmistress, and my dad, was a headmaster. I actually had the trait of teaching people from them.
My parents were very particular about how you live your life. First and foremost, with my parents you must be closed to God. You don’t have any excuse not to pray and fast. When we were very young, younger as in you don’t even know what is called fasting; we were meant to fast. We were made to understand that, fasting is the only way we can get close to God.
Secondly, education is non-negotiable in my family and not just to go to school, you have to come out with good grades. My siblings and I came out with good grades in my family. My mother would always sit us down and make sure we get it right. Also, been a disciplinarian, I remembered a particular day I went to school without brushing my teeth and I ate food. Seriously My mother brought me out on the assembly ground, she said “You didn’t brush your teeth this morning and you ate food”
I was so ashamed of myself that day. She said she was going to discipline me because she wants people to know she doesn’t spare her own child. Seriously, my mother would not spare you if you don’t get it right.
We were raised to embrace excellence in my family, not to be a mediocre.
If you say this is what you want to do, you must do it right, and the best way to do things is to do it the best way, there is no shortcut rather than do it right.
How has that humble beginning contributed to the big brand that you are today?
All of those trainings helped me to form stability in what I do. In music industry, a lot of people do things anyhow. I didn’t grow up like that. I like to do things properly. I understand management. I understand structure. Those were inculcated in me when I was growing up. I know about strategy, structure and management and that has helped me in managing people I work with. I have a good structure. People that come to my studio to work can bear me witness. I had to be disciplined. I had to be detailed and I had to be responsible. All these I learnt from my parents.
You recently celebrated your 45th birthday, what has life taught you at 45?
I have learnt a lot as a person that the more you grow up, the more you become humble, you should be accessible. There is nothing in this world that worth dieing for, except God. One should not be too arrogant to anybody, because we are all born the same way and we will die the same way. The point is just to be nice to people. The more you grow older, the more you attract wisdom. There is a general saying that, “a fool at 40 is a fool forever but to me, if someone is growing above 40, automatically wisdom would abide with you. And when the wisdom is there you also need the leading of God.
The best gift man can receive is the help of God. For me, having come this far to mark another birthday tells me that God is the beginning and the end of everything. God is No 1. This life is too short; Let’s live it to the fullest. Let’s be nice to people. We need to love our neighbours. We need to give back. We need to influence our neighbourhood and our generation and the upcoming ones. I realize that the younger generation don’t even know a lot of things. They are not tutored to behave well to people. The young people this day are not respectful. I see life as a challenge too. As you are growing older you learn. I learn from younger one as well.
When did you start professionally?
I started professionally in the 90s, but I have been going to the studio since the early ’80s.
Laugh! This is the question people ask me a lot. Many people don’t even know I’m married. I’m married by the Grace of God to a beautiful woman. Her name is Adebola Oni. She’s very understanding and very supportive. You know the greatest disaster is when you have a talent and your spouse does not support it, that talent will die. Many spouses are like barricade to talents. Mine is very different. I manage my home front well. I go anywhere I want to go. I do my music with ease. I don’t have any issue with her.
Let’s talk about your Ambassadorial Appointments, how did they come about?
I have several of that. The first has a UN National Youth Peace Ambassador, which I was given in 2015. The second one is the Yamaha Ambassadorial appointment. The very first one in Africa. In that ambassadorial team, we also have Wale, who is also a drummer, Adeyemi and Sir Jude.
I also got consultancy endorsement by Yamaha. I was consulting for them on African sound. Many awards too to the glory of God.